The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

8 Mile Worth the Trip

Mick Hall

After much dropping of subtle hints and complaining about my inability in middle age to take on new forms, Mrs Hall finally got me into the pictures to see the Rapper Eminem's first feature film, 8 Mile. Now, Mrs Hall places Eminem alongside Bobby Dylan as far as lyric writing is concerned, whilst to my ear his ‘music’ sounds like adolescent bleating. As you can see, we clearly have a conflict of interest; I was looking forward to the movie about as much as one does whilst awaiting the Pearl and Dean ads they still show at my local cinema prior to the main feature starting. At the end of the film, when the house lights came up, Mrs Hall turned to me with a superior look and said, “Well, what do you think?” I had to admit not only has the young man got something, but I thoroughly enjoyed 8 Mile.

It was far from what I imagined it would be like, i.e. a pop promo, promoting Eminem latest CD.… Instead we got a glimpse of the anger and frustration of working class youth and their desire to escape the drudgery for life bourgeois society has earmarked out for them. That escape, portrayed in the film as being possible via the music business, is ingrained in the hearts of many popstar wannabes, but it is much deeper than that, as along with sport it is also part of the human dream to tie ones working and social life into one interrelated lifestyle. This is especially true today, in the ever more brutal world that has been created by globalization.

The movie portrays the daily grind of working class life in the US accurately, something that is rarely seen in a US movie; i.e., that a third of all US citizens have no healthcare cover free at the point of need, a modest home in the big cities is economically beyond many, if not most working class peoples means (as it is increasingly in Ireland and England), and public housing has all but disappeared because of Federal and State budget cutbacks, which then allow the Federal government to give tax rebates to the richest 10%. What Public Housing survives is reduced to stereotyping by the media and those who live on estates such as Chicago's ‘the projects’ are portrayed insultingly as ‘the underclass,’ ‘the poor’ or coming from dysfunctional ‘single parent' families, ever willing for their children to become victims of drug dealers, loan sharks and the rest of the fleas that inhabit the underbelly of capitalism.

Rabbit, the character Eminem plays, lives in a trailer park with his mum and little sister. He works in a metal processing plant turning out sink units, all that is left of the once mighty motor manufacturing industries that used to ring Detroit; good working conditions brought about through the trade unions organising labour is a distant memory — hire and fire, bullying supervisors being the order of the day. Despite the sheer monotony and dangerous nature of the work it still does not bring in a living wage. This hard existence is lightened, like it is for millions of youngsters the world over, by two things: belonging to a gang and music. By a gang, I dont mean it as portrayed in the media and personified by the criminal rackets of East LA or the late unlamented Drugadairs in Belfast, but simply hanging out in a group that has common interests, something teenagers have done since the word was first coined.

The cement that hold Rabbits crew together is rap music and a common desire for it to propel them into the world inhabited by their heroes. Sure the plot is pretty thin, but out of necessity as it portrays a group of youngsters hanging out, which in reality is one of the most boring and uneventful parts of teenagehood.

I dont want to go into any more details about the plot of the film as it would spoil it for future viewers. However I would just add that the acting is first rate, especially those who play the members of Eminem's gang, Kim Basinger, who plays his mum, and, to my total surprise, the man himself.

Finally, I defy anyone who is working class not to feel a puff of pride at the end, when our boy does good and slays a pretentious mockney. Take my advice, leave you prejudices and closed mind at home and go and see this film, I'm sure you will, like me, be pleasantly surprised. Oh, by the way, the bit about closed mind, etc. was the argument Mrs Hall used to get me to the pictures!





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
- Thomas J. Watson

Index: Current Articles

14 February 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Anti War March Tomorrow
Davy Carlin


A Tale of Two Writers
Anthony McIntyre


Phil Berrigan is Dead
Larry Kirwan


8 Mile Worth the Trip
Mick Hall


A Letter of Protest
Orlaith Dillon


London Arrests Update


9 February 2003


Orange Terror in America
Karen Lyden Cox


Street Traders
Anthony McIntyre


West Belfast: Memories of a childhood voyage of conflict
Davy Carlin


Planned Nationhood
Brian Mór


Breaking the Connection With England

Mary Ward


When I hear the word "gun", I reach for my culture

Jimmy Sands


Where Are The Incubators?
Paul de Rooij




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